Government bails out struggling local authorities
Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
TREASURY has intervened to bail out struggling local authorities across the country with funds to improve critical infrastructure and enhance service delivery.
In a statement yesterday, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said following Government’s recent interventions in the City of Harare, it has come to their attention that other local authorities were facing similar problems regards to water and sewer provision.
“Lack of investments by councils towards maintenance and rehabilitation of infrastructure assets has resulted in high water losses along the distribution networks with some local authorities having water losses above 60 percent,” he said.
“Additionally, most councils are failing to collect billed amounts from residents, and hence, have accumulated huge bills for water treatment chemicals, which has resulted in suppliers suspending services.”
Last month, Government extended ZWL$72,3 million to 16 municipalities including Bulawayo, to finance water and sewerage projects.
From the funding, BCC was allocated $18,3 million for water and sewer reticulation. The local authority has also indicated that its 2020 capital budget would prioritise water and sanitation infrastructure projects with a bias towards housing and commercial stands development as well as completion of outstanding projects.
Prof Ncube said the disposal of waste also remains a huge challenge for most local authorities because of the proliferation of illegal solid waste dumps in most locations.
If left unchecked, Prof Ncube said, therewas a real threat of the re-emergence ofwater-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid, which caused untold suffering to citizens.
“Based on the submissions affected councils, Government will be disbursing ZWL$9,770 million from the Inter-GovernmentalFiscal Transfers allocation towards Chegutuand Kwekwe City Council,” said ProfNcube.
“It should be noted that the path to recovery of critical infrastructure assets within local authorities will take time, resources and effort by all parties.
“I, therefore, call upon all concerned stakeholders to harness their energies and contribute towards this important effort. Government will continue to monitor the situation and intervene where necessary,” he said. — @okazunga